Questions tagged [connotation]

For questions regarding the associated or underlying meaning of a word, in addition to its primary definition.

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9
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6answers
64k views

“Told” vs. “said to” somebody

I told him that you hate him I said to him that you hate him I was choosing between these two options, and I can't help thinking about the subtle differences. For example, "I told him your ...
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2answers
4k views

Does “uxorious” have sexual connotations?

I understand the literal meaning of uxorious, but does it have sexual implications? That is, does it just mean that one is excessively devoted to one’s wife, or does it imply excessive sexual ...
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3answers
63k views

“to a degree” vs. “to an extent”

Is there a measurable difference in meaning between the phrases "to a degree" and "to an extent" (or "to some degree" and "to some extent")? Examples: To [some degree / some extent] that is a better ...
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4answers
25k views

What are the connotations of “there” in “hello/hi there”

I'm an ESL speaker and I'm not completely familiar with the underlying meaning conveyed when adding there to a greeting such as Hello there compared to just Hello (punctuation omitted for ...
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12answers
8k views

Is there a non-derogatory synonym for “propaganda”?

Is there a non-derogatory synonym for propaganda? Specifically, I’m talking about a word to describe the sum of all messages a particular political member has broadcast (through various media), but ...
8
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7answers
6k views

Are there racial overtones for the term thug?

Some of us have seen the Richard Sherman pre-SuperBowl interviews where he accuses the media of racism by using the term "thug" to describe him/his actions. He suggests that it is being used to ...
8
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5answers
7k views

Does the word 'gimmick' have positive or negative meaning?

Does the word gimmick have a positive or negative meaning? It is not obvious to me from a wikipedia article. I also would be glad if someone could explain it in two words, not several paragraphs ...
8
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6answers
46k views

Word for not knowing about something

I would like to know some word choices (can be a noun, adjective,...) for not knowing about something, with a positive connotation with a negative connotation in a neutral way For example, I guess ...
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6answers
3k views

First-rate, second-rate, and third-rate

I’d like some clarification on the use of these three words. First-rate has positive connotations and its meaning is manifest, but the meanings of second-rate and third-rate are relatively muddy in ...
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2answers
5k views

Does “uncanny” have a negative connotation to it?

Uncanny seems to be the word I'm looking for to describe something, but I'm worried that it might have a negative connotation to it. Does it? What are some words that are very close to having the same ...
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5answers
3k views

Is there a connotational difference between “Reality” and “Actuality”?

The motto for the TruTV channel has always bugged me: Not reality, actuality. At least from online dictionaries I have looked up these words on, they seem equivalent. The definitions even reference ...
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6answers
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What connotation does “to fork one's repo” have?

In a recent news item, an employee was fired partly for making jokes about "big dongle" and "forking repos", which were alleged to be inappropriate sexual jokes. The employee admitted the dongle joke ...
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6answers
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“Destiny” vs. “Fate”

I'm aware a search will turn up many discussions on the differences or interchangeability of these terms, but it would be good to get some answers here with an emphasis on the etymology of the two ...
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3answers
483 views

What could the word “thumbtick” mean?

I am trying to give a piece of software a name but for non-native English speakers it's sometimes hard to avoid awkward associations with names because you don't live with the language. Sometimes word ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Would you say that “headhunter” (as in recruitment) carries derogatory connotations? [closed]

I’ve seen the expression being used quite a lot in non-English speaking countries by recruiters themselves and I find it a bit odd. Have they chosen the wrong way to be cool?
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2answers
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Is “pseudo” strictly negative?

I'm used to "pseudo" in academic contexts, where the word/prefix has no connotation at all. It essentially means "not genuine": Pseudorandom Pseudoprime Pseudoephedrine Pseudo-atoll I was about to ...
8
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3answers
11k views

Could you please do X vs. Could you do X please

I'm an English teacher, and I heard a student say "could you please open the window" the other day. To my ears, "could you please open the window" as a construction sounds exasperated, even irritated,...
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5answers
7k views

Cultural connotation of American English — some examples?

I am from India and we speak English there as well, albeit not as culturally refined as I see in the US. In India, and perhaps in the UK, English is spoken in a straight and 'as it is' manner. For ...
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6answers
18k views

“Alumnus” vs “dropout”: Can you still call someone who chooses to quit college/university study an “alumnus” of that institution?

If someone chooses to quit college, I can refer to that person as a “former” student of that college. It therefore appears that I can use alumnus according to the definitions given for that term given ...
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3answers
5k views

Why do we call snail mail “snail mail”?

Why do we call snail mail "snail mail"? So by default mail will refer to email?
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4answers
6k views

Can “zealot” have a positive connotation?

A zealot is a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals. I have never seen this word used with positive connotation, but could it (without ...
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5answers
971 views

Is ‘suit-wearing’ an adjective sui generis?

I was interested to find the term, “Occupy Wall Street’s suit-wearing cousin” appearing in a May 31 New York Times article titled Facing down the Bankers. It begins with the following line: Dennis ...
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12answers
3k views

A synonym for “bastardized” without the evil slant?

With the following definition: To lower in quality or character. Synonyms found: corrupt, pervert, subvert, demoralize, demoralise, debauch, debase, profane, vitiate, deprave, misdirect ...
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10answers
13k views

Is the use of the word “terrible” in a positive sense at all common?

I recently had an argument with one gentleman where he charged that he had heard the word terrible being used in a positive sense, as if something was good, or great. I had lived in the States for ...
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4answers
2k views

Bless your heart

Is "bless your heart" something only used by old women in the South (all I've ever heard)? Or is it ever appropriate for a man to use it without seeming unmanly? Does the term always have ...
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2answers
2k views

How does one use the adjectival noun “l'enfant terrible”?

I have seen this phrase bandied about from time to time, usually in more "academic" works; my problem is that I remember it rarely being applied to children, as a direct translation might imply ("...
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2answers
511 views

“the writing is on the wall” vs. “the handwriting is on the wall”

This morning I heard on NPR someone mention that: "The handwriting is on the wall". I had a notion that it was a biblical allusion, which was confirmed by: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
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4answers
2k views

Why is “hopefully” treated so mercilessly?

Is the word "hopefully" unjustly treated? We don't like the sentence: "Hopefully, my ship is just over the horizon and due in real soon now." But we don't mind saying: "Happily, the tree fell on ...
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3answers
1k views

Positive connotation of “fluke”?

Many sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, for a start) suggest the word "fluke" has mostly positive connotations when used in the sense of "accident." That is, "a fluke" properly describes a lucky accident, not ...
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5answers
26k views

Does 'droll' have a negative connotation?

I'd taken droll to mean something like drily amusing, but without any implied negativity. But I've often heard people say Very droll! in response to something that they appear to find mildly amusing ...
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6answers
15k views

Connotations of “inevitable” versus “unavoidable”

"Inevitable" and "unavoidable" have near-synonymous definitions per stock Google dictionary searches, and both words stem from the same Latin root, but I've also seen broad acknowledgement that they ...
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6answers
12k views

A positive word for 'opportunist'

The word opportunist seems to be used negatively for a person. Is there a word with the same but positive meaning?
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1answer
2k views

Does “abstruse” carry a positive or negative connotation?

Generally, does the word "abstruse" give positive or negative (or neutral) connotations? For example, "daedal" and "profound" would generally be considered a word with positive connotations, whereas "...
7
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3answers
58k views

Getting into the Groove

What is the exact context of using this phrase? Is a positive connotation attached to it or a negative one?
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2answers
4k views

What are the connotations of the word “Greetings” when used as a greeting?

What are the connotations of the word "Greetings" when used as a greeting? I am British, and I have rarely heard "Greetings!" used as a greeting in the UK. I associate it in my mind with Commander ...
7
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2answers
314 views

How did “lady” and “ladies” come to differ in conveying degree of respect?

I was struck today by the difference between the sentences: Ladies, are you ready to order? and Lady, are you ready to order? The first (at least in my idiolect) is clearly respectful, while ...
7
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1answer
222 views

Was the Shark frightening to 16th / 17th-century English speakers?

Undoubtedly, in our Modern-mind-set, for many the mere utterance of the word "Shark" (more so when in the ocean, swimming) brings a sort of dread or at the least, undesirability to the ...
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6answers
2k views

Is there a word that means badge/ hallmark but has a negative connotation? [closed]

I want something for the sentence: Being a minority is not a _____ of shame but a badge of honor. Edit: I wanted the parallel between ____ and badge. See the accepted answer for details. Thanks ...
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5answers
2k views

Do people really think “muslin” has something to do with “Muslim”?

My boss just floored me with a doozy of an assertion: he had me change someone's password, which contained the word "muslin", because "you can't go calling people Muslims in this day and age". Yeah, ...
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6answers
16k views

What connotation do these words describing “someone who straightforwardly expresses their” opinion have?

The adjective ones I have heard recently are forward straightforward forthcoming frank I was wondering if each of them has positive, negative or neutral meaning? What are other similar terms that ...
6
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6answers
18k views

Difference between 'Redundant' and 'Superfluous'

(I made a search for this question on this forum but surprisingly did not find related questions. Which is odd because surely this question is asked often.) First, the sentence I'm trying to use ...
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7answers
117k views

What's the difference between “debate” and “argument”?

These words seem to have similar meanings, possibly with different connotations.
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7answers
3k views

Meaning and connotations of “ignorance”

I'm interested in the more intricate meanings of the term "ignorance". In my experience, it is being used primarily to express someone's state of not knowing. Somebody can be ignorant and innocent of ...
6
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5answers
13k views

Does “exotic” have racist connotation? [closed]

Sometimes you hear people use "exotic" to refer to something foreign to them. It can be a place, music, food, clothes, or even a person. Some people argue that the word exotic has racist connotation ...
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3answers
4k views

What does Macbeth mean when he says his heart is “seated”?

Here's the quote (from The Tragedy of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare): This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing ...
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3answers
2k views

Connotations of Letter 'X'

In the English language, the letter X has a connotation of mystery, intrigue, or excitement. Examples: Planet X: A theoretical planet of mysterious origin, or an unknown planet. [Edit: Bad example, ...
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3answers
15k views

What does a “man of leisure” do exactly? What is the definition and the connotation?

I watched the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit some weeks ago, and have happily remembered a question I had forgotten from it just now. In this dialogue, Mr. Clennam, a dashing and ...
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2answers
1k views

A word for something that's done only half-consciously

In writing fiction, I find myself using the word "absentmindedly" a lot, but I don't think it's really the word I'm looking for. I'm not looking so much something done in a distracted manner, but ...
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6answers
8k views

Terms to apply to something that leaves strong memory

Do the following terms have positive, neutral or negative meaning? memorable impressive remarkable What are other similar terms that are used for positive, neutral and negative intention?
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2answers
16k views

Why does “love child” imply “out of wedlock”?

The etymology of love child says it derived as a polite form of "love brat" which was used around the 18th century. My question is when two people are in love and they have a child, could you not ...

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